CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Before Greg attended the Regional Teen Institute last year he was facing suspension from school and was on the path to being held back a grade and becoming a dropout.
While at the camp, sponsored by the Adolescent Health Initiative through the United Way of Central West Virginia, Greg gained a new outlook on life. For the first time, he felt like he was a part of something.
He started meeting friends who were successful in school and who included him in their activities. The staff members who were both his age and older stressed the importance of learning.
Margo Friend, the camp's director, said being surrounded by older role models gives the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders the chance to see how the mentors dealt with things at a younger age, like how to avoid drugs, teen pregnancy and violence.
"One of the secrets to the whole success is that the adults have all week with the youth to share experiences," Friend said. "It happens over meals, at group time, during a basketball game and in the cabin's at night - the volunteers share with the campers how they've succeeded in life."
After camp, Greg's respect for adults, study habits and grades improved.
"Just having someone believing in him and telling him he could do well helped him re-focus," according to Friend. "The volunteers show [the campers] anybody can succeed if they try."
Many kids like Greg aren't taught what a difference getting an education will mean for their future. Donors are needed to lend a hand to kids who might not otherwise acknowledge valuable life lessons.